Qatar GP: Miller leads Ducati 1-2 on Day 1 in the desert

Miller’s 1:53.387 was just 0.007s away from the all-time lap record, and team-mate Francesco Bagnaia made it a Borgo Panigale factory 1-2.

An infinitesimal 0.035sec split the two red machines, with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completing the top three after ending the day 0.188 off Miller.

MotoGP: The class of 2021 is ready for Qatar GP

After a scorching FP1 was complete, the Losail floodlights were switched on for FP2 and Miller, Bagnaia, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) all almost immediately set laptimes quicker than Franco Morbidelli’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) FP1 pace.

In the end then, it’s Ducati and Miller who take first blood in 2021 and Bagnaia is forced to settle for second.

The Italian makes sure it’s a Bologna 1-2 at the top though, with Yamaha looking good and Quartararo the quickest YZR-M1 rider so far in third.

Zarco is looking like a serious contender on the GP21 too and finished in P4, with Rins going well on the soft tyres – something that bodes well for Suzuki to shrug of their sometime Achilles’ heel of one-lap pace – to claim P5.

Maverick Vinales and Franco Morbidelli were close in sixth and seventh, respectively, finishing within three tenths of Miller as Aleix Espargaro slipped to P8 at the end of play.

Valentino Rossi finished inside the top 10 for the second session in a row, the nine-time world champion taking ninth, and Pol Espargaro grabbed a vital P10 despite his late tumble.

Reigning world champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) missed out on what could prove to be a crucial top 10 place as his title defence begins, but the gap could hardly be smaller: just 0.013sec.

MotoGP has really returned with a bang in 2021 as 16 riders finished within a second on the opening day, a fantastic way to welcome back Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

3.15 pm local time (5.45pm IST) on Saturday is when the premier class will be back on track for FP3 and the provisional places in Q2 will be confirmed.

The first qualifying shootout of the season begins from 7.20pm local time (9.50pmIST).

(By a special arrangement with Dorna Sports)

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